Rudolf Witzig

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Rudolf Witzig
Rudolf Witzig.jpg
Rudolf Witzig
Born (1916-08-14)14 August 1916
Röhlinghausen in Wanne-Eickel
Died 3 October 2001(2001-10-03) (aged 85)
Oberschleißheim
Allegiance Nazi Germany Nazi Germany (to 1945)
 West Germany
Service/branch Luftwaffe
Years of service 1935–1945, 1956–1974
Rank Major (Wehrmacht)
Oberst (Bundeswehr)
Commands held I./Fallschirm-Pionier-Regiment 21
Fallschirmjäger-Regiment 18
Battles/wars

World War II

Awards Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves
German Cross in Gold
Iron Cross (1st & 2nd class)

Rudolf Witzig (14 August 1916 in Röhlinghausen, Wanne-Eickel – 3 October 2001 in Oberschleißheim) was a German Fallschirmjäger during World War II and Oberst in the Bundeswehr. He was also a recipient of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves (German: Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes mit Eichenlaub). The Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross and its higher grade Oak Leaves was awarded to recognise extreme battlefield bravery or successful military leadership. Witzig is most well known for his action against the Belgian fortress Fort Eben-Emael.

Military career[edit]

Rudolf Witzig joined the 16th Pioneer Battalion in Höxter on 1 April 1935, as an officer candidate. Two years later, on 20 April 1937, he was promoted to Leutnant and served as a platoon leader in the 31st Pioneer Battalion. Witzig volunteered for service in the Fallschirmjäger on 1 August 1938, and joined the Parachute Infantry Battalion under the command of Major Richard Heidrich. A year later, after transferring to the Luftwaffe and then holding the rank of Oberleutnant, he was leader of the Sturmabteilung Koch pioneer platoon. This unit was named after Hauptmann Walter Koch.[1]

Witzig's greatest military achievement was the capture of Fort Eben-Emael in the Battle of Fort Eben-Emael on 10 May 1940; that same day, Oberleutnant Witzig was awarded the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross. A special announcement of the Wehrmachtbericht on 11 May lauded the accomplishments of Witzig and his airborne landing group. On 16 May, Witzig was further honored by an early promotion to Hauptmann.[1]

Rudolf Witzig led the 9th Company of the Parachute Assault Regiment during the Invasion of Crete. Wounded in the course of the battle, he was transferred from the Luftwaffe hospital in Athens to several other hospitals.[1]

On 10 May 1942, Witzig was placed in command of the Corps Parachute Pioneer Battalion. He received promotion to Major on 24 August 1942. From November 1942, he and his battalion served in Tunisia under the command of Oberst Hasso von Manteuffel, General Friedrich Freiherr von Broich, and General Alfred Bülowius, incorporated into the Barenthin Luftwaffe Regiment. The defensive successes in the northern sector of the Tunisian Front are closely linked with Rudolf Witzig.[1]

Witzig served as the commanding officer of I Battalion, 21st Parachute Pioneer Regiment, from 15 June 1944, and simultaneously as commanding officer of the regiment. Witzig and his unit were mentioned a second time in the Wehrmachtbericht on 8 August 1944, after the destruction of 27 enemy tanks near Kumele.[1]

His last service in World War II was as commanding officer of the 18th Parachute Regiment, from 16 December 1944. With his regiment, he went into captivity on 8 May 1945. Witzig's last honor of the war had come the previous day, when his name was placed on the Honor Roll of the Luftwaffe.[1]

Later life[edit]

Rudolf Witzig re-joined the military service in the newly created Bundeswehr of the Federal Republic of Germany on 16 January 1956. He retired on 30 September 1974 holding the rank of Oberst.

Awards[edit]

References in the Wehrmachtbericht[edit]

Date Original German Wehrmachtbericht wording Direct English translation
Saturday, 11 May 1940 (Sondermeldung) Das stärkste Fort der Festung Lüttich, Eben-Emael, das die Übergänge über die Maas und den Albert-Kanal bei und westlich Maastricht beherrscht, hat sich Sonnabendnachmittag ergeben. Der Kommandant und 1000 Mann wurden gefangen genommen.
Das Fort wurde schon am 10. Mai durch eine ausgesuchte Abteilung der Luftwaffe unter Führung von Oberleutnant Witzig und unter Einsatz neuartiger Angriffsmittel kampfunfähig gemacht und die Besatzung niedergehalten. Als es einem von Norden angreifenden Verband des Heeres nach hartem Kampf gelungen war, die Verbindung mit der Abteilung Witzig herzustellen, hat die Besatzung ihre Waffen gestreckt.
[5]
(Extra) The strongest fort of the fortress Lüttich, Eben-Emael, which dominates the crossings of the Maas and Albert-Canal near and west of Maastrich surrendered Saturday afternoon. The commanding officer and 1000 men were taken prisoner of war.
The fort was already rendered defenceless and the garrison pinned down on 10 May by a specially selected unit of the Luftwaffe under the leadership of Oberleutnant Witzig and deploying new combat means. The garrison dropped their arms when an attacking unit of the Army, after heavy combat, established contact with the detachment Witzig.
8 August 1944 Im Kampfraum westlich Kauen hat sich das 1. Bataillon des Fallschirm-Pionierregiments 21 unter Major Witzig durch beispielhaften Kampfgeist hervorragend bewährt. Das Bataillon vernichtete an einem Tag 27 feindliche Panzer im Nahkampf[6] 1st Battalion of the Fallschirm-Pionierregiments 21 under the command of Major Witzig distinguished themselves and showed exemplary fighting spirit in the combat area west of Kauen. The Battalion destroyed 27 enemy tanks in close combat on one day.

References[edit]

Citations
  1. ^ a b c d e f Kurowski 1995, p. 275.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Thomas and Wegmann 1986, p. 369.
  3. ^ Patzwall and Scherzer 2001, p. 519.
  4. ^ a b Scherzer 2007, p. 793.
  5. ^ Die Wehrmachtberichte 1939-1945 Band 1, p. 144, 145.
  6. ^ Die Wehrmachtberichte 1939-1945 Band 3, p. 195.
Bibliography
  • Fellgiebel, Walther-Peer (2000). Die Träger des Ritterkreuzes des Eisernen Kreuzes 1939–1945 – Die Inhaber der höchsten Auszeichnung des Zweiten Weltkrieges aller Wehrmachtsteile [The Bearers of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross 1939–1945 — The Owners of the Highest Award of the Second World War of all Wehrmacht Branches] (in German). Friedberg, Germany: Podzun-Pallas. ISBN 978-3-7909-0284-6. 
  • Kurowski, Franz (1995). Knights of the Wehrmacht Knight's Cross Holders of the Fallschirmjäger. Atglen, PA: Schiffer Military. ISBN 978-0-88740-749-9. 
  • Patzwall, Klaus D.; Scherzer, Veit (2001). Das Deutsche Kreuz 1941 – 1945 Geschichte und Inhaber Band II [The German Cross 1941 – 1945 History and Recipients Volume 2] (in German). Norderstedt, Germany: Verlag Klaus D. Patzwall. ISBN 978-3-931533-45-8. 
  • Scherzer, Veit (2007). Die Ritterkreuzträger 1939–1945 Die Inhaber des Ritterkreuzes des Eisernen Kreuzes 1939 von Heer, Luftwaffe, Kriegsmarine, Waffen-SS, Volkssturm sowie mit Deutschland verbündeter Streitkräfte nach den Unterlagen des Bundesarchives [The Knight's Cross Bearers 1939–1945 The Holders of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross 1939 by Army, Air Force, Navy, Waffen-SS, Volkssturm and Allied Forces with Germany According to the Documents of the Federal Archives] (in German). Jena, Germany: Scherzers Miltaer-Verlag. ISBN 978-3-938845-17-2. 
  • Thomas, Franz; Wegmann, Günter (1986). Die Ritterkreuzträger der Deutschen Wehrmacht 1939–1945 Teil II: Fallschirmjäger [The Knight's Cross Bearers of the German Wehrmacht 1939–1945 Part II: Paratroopers] (in German). Osnabrück, Germany: Biblio-Verlag. ISBN 978-3-7648-1461-8. 
  • Thomas, Franz (1998). Die Eichenlaubträger 1939–1945 Band 2: L–Z [The Oak Leaves Bearers 1939–1945 Volume 2: L–Z] (in German). Osnabrück, Germany: Biblio-Verlag. ISBN 978-3-7648-2300-9. 
  • Williamson, Gordon and Bujeiro, Ramiro (2004). Knight's Cross and Oak Leaves Recipients 1939–40. Osprey Publishing Ltd. ISBN 1-84176-641-0.
  • Die Wehrmachtberichte 1939–1945 Band 1, 1. September 1939 bis 31. Dezember 1941 [The Wehrmacht Reports 1939–1945 Volume 1, 1 September 1939 to 31 December 1941] (in German). München, Germany: Deutscher Taschenbuch Verlag GmbH & Co. KG. 1985. ISBN 978-3-423-05944-2. 
  • Die Wehrmachtberichte 1939-1945 Band 3, 1. Januar 1944 bis 9. May 1945 (in German). München: Deutscher Taschenbuch Verlag GmbH & Co. KG, 1985. ISBN 3-423-05944-3.
  • Frey, Gerhard; Herrmann, Hajo: Helden der Wehrmacht II - Unsterbliche deutsche Soldaten (in German). München, Germany: FZ-Verlag GmbH, 2003. ISBN 3-924309-62-0.
External links